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“Fostering brought my family closer together”

Sons and Daughters Month celebrates the difference that birth children make in fostering. Whether they’re still young and living at home or have already flown the nest, having an extended family that care about your foster children makes a massive difference to their well-being and sense of belonging.

Linda fosters with St Christopher’s in the West Midlands. The support she’s received from her own children has had a great impact on the young people she fosters.

I’ve been fostering for three and half years and for most of this time I’ve been looking after a sibling group of three.

My birth children are all grown up aged 30, 33 and 35 and they’ve all got children of their own too. When we told them we were thinking about fostering they were all for it and thought it was a great idea.

Initially we were a bit worried about how our grandchildren would react but they totally accepted it and call our foster children their cousins. They spend every Saturday together as they’re roughly the same age and the two oldest ones both go to the same school.

I am particularly close to my oldest granddaughter who I had looked after a lot since she was a baby so I did wonder how she would behave when she saw me caring for another child. We discussed the idea of fostering with her throughout the whole application process and brought her along to buy all the things we’d need.

She was staying with us when our very first foster children arrived and instantly put the them at ease by giving them a tour of our house. Having someone there on their level definitely made a difference!

The first time my son met our current foster children was on a big family day out. They all got on really well and it was a completely natural transition.

Our middle foster child has had a really difficult time, but our oldest daughter has really taken her under her wing and tells her she will help as much as possible.

I think that having my family on board gives my foster children a feeling of acceptance. They send them birthday cards saying “brother” or “sister” on the front without us asking them to.

Fostering is normal for the whole family. I think if you can be relaxed about it then that’s half the battle – children can sense when you’re not being genuine and they’ll call you out on it.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a learning experience. Children’s needs change all the time when they’re growing up so all of us have to adapt too. I learn something new every day and it’s really important for foster carers to be able to take constructive criticism on board and take direction if you’re doing something wrong.

Since we started fostering my family has knitted together and become more of a unit. They’ve adapted really well to the changes we’ve had to make to become a foster family and have never wavered in their support.

If my own children were a bit younger I would probably have worried about jealousy. However, we treat them all on an equal keel. There’s no “us versus them” because we’re all part of the “us”, in spite of the big age difference. We want everyone in our family to feel valued because they truly are.

Find out about fostering